Raging pandemic disrupts India’s multi-million dollar cricket league

By Mikaela Viqueira

New Delhi, May 7 (EFE).- The sudden decision to suspend the Indian Premier League earlier this week after some players tested positive for Covid-19 despite a strict bubble arrangement is set to cause enormous losses to the cricket tournament for which just the annual television rights are sold for around $500 million.

Cricket dominates around 90 percent of all sports revenue in India, with IPL being the largest revenue generator, well-known sports analyst and commentator Joy Bhattacharya told EFE.

However, the pandemic is set to land a double blow to the tournament in its most important sectors: match broadcasts and sponsorships.

The sport could also suffer further losses if the T20 Cricket World Cup 2021, set to be held in October, is canceled or shifted due to the pandemic.

According to the data website Statista, the average annual cost of IPL broadcast rights is around $510 million for the five years between 2018 and 2022, a massive jump from the $183 million for 2009-2017.

The revenue linked to match broadcast largely depends on the number of people connected to the Star India media group, which possesses the broadcast rights until 2022, apart from the number of days when matches are played.

The 2021 season of the league consisted of 60 matches that began on Apr. 9 and were set to conclude on May 31, before its postponement was announced.

So far, only 29 match days out of the total 60 have been played, which means that nearly half of the revenue could be in jeopardy, according to Bhattacharya.

The commentator calculated that out of the $700 million that IPL earns in broadcast rights and sponsorships, around half may be lost due to the pandemic, apart from around $200 million already lost due to matches played in empty stadiums.

Moreover, Arun Dhumal, the treasurer for the Board of Control for Cricket in India, estimated that the body could suffer losses worth $540 million if the upcoming Cricket World Cup is canceled or shifted from the country, according to a local media report.

Consultancy Duff & Phelps pegged IPL’s worth in 2020 at around $6.2 billion, despite a drop of 3.6 percent compared to the year before due to the pandemic.

According to the same report, the most valuable team, Mumbai Indians, retained its top spot for the fifth year in a row with a net worth of $7.61 billion, a 5.9 percent drop year-on-year.

The most famous brands of the country compete to sponsor the IPL, which increased its viewership by 23 percent last year compared to 2019 and registered a record 400 billion minutes of consumption, generating 112 hours of advertising space, according to a report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the consultancy Ernst & Young.

According to the report, IPL was sponsored by 110 different brands.

However, any possible losses to the tournament do not interfere with the players’ contracts with their teams.

The most popular face of India’s favorite sport, Indian captain and star batsman Virat Kohli, leads the figures in the industry, earning around $26 million annually and figuring at the 66th place among the world’s 100 best-paid athletes, according to Forbes magazine.

Kohli is one of the three cricket players of the national team having an A+ contract, which guarantees an annual salary of $1 million even if he doesn’t play any games.

He’s also the best-paid cricketer in IPL, earning around $2 million per season, apart from being the face of major brands such as Audi, Puma, Google, and Philips, with his annual advertising income crossing $20 million according to Forbes. EFE


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